As it turns out Nitmiluk National Park is big, like 292,800 hectares big. I look down at the two pins I think will carry me through this landscape, then look up to a helicopter. It has swift appeal as I study the croc warning signs. It’s my first day in N.T. and I’m venturing solo.
The text that comes through from Dad cements my decision, “there’s crocs in the Katherine River, darling.” I chuckle at him fearing I’ll be the first Tasmanian ever eaten on a well-worn tourist trail, worthy of NT News headlines. I opt for the $99 flight.
High above, it’s like country I’ve never seen. Sandstone in dissected chunks sprawls out on either side of Katherine Gorge. The river below follows a well-worn path, nearly two billion years in the making. Hovering high in our glass bubble, the vastness is difficult to contemplate; yet the diversity sharply clear. Rainforest gullies collide with sunburnt sandstone plateaus and lily ponds sit silently. As 13 gorges disappear beneath, our pilot dips low and comes across buffalos taking a late morning dip.
This 15 minute perspective captures what N.T. has in abundance…and that’s space. Up in the blue that sense of vastness is powerful - it opens the mind, lets you see beyond horizons and even encourages a dash of Jawoyn dreaming. Who would want to wake up…or touch down.
Words, images + footage: Alice Hansen
The Mindil Beach sunset is a daily spectacle – happening reliably around the same time each day. What’s more, it’s complimentary. It’s the type that makes me wonder why every sunset shouldn’t be acknowledged. A great big fiery ball hovering over the Arafura Sea, punctuated by children splashing and yachts intersecting its rich glow.
I’ve not seen one like it, almost reachable, and so blindingly beautiful I can’t see a thing when my gaze is pulled elsewhere. Sinking my toes deeper into the sands, cementing my front row seat among hundreds of beach goers, a Mindil sunset has the ability to stop everyone in their sandy tracks. For the final moments of this sinking stunner, volleyball games are abandoned and even excitable children fall still. And at the end, a collective cheer of appreciation. It’s only then that I pull myself away for the Sri Lankan, Chinese, Brazilian and Portuguese offerings of the markets behind, equally reliable as the sunset on Thursdays and Sundays.
Words & images: Alice Hansen
Type ‘flyboarding’ into google and it’s near impossible not to be intrigued. Part space-age, part super human, I decide Darwin is the place I will fly. Starting out in France, it only hit Australian shores in 2012. I motor along, spluttering behind the jet-ski, nodding as if I understand all the directions. It happens to be the first time I’ll be attached to what looks like a fire hose and shot vertically toward space. What could go wrong? What I do recall is, “keep your legs straight and your feet flat.” With this is mind, and a powerful rocket launcher beneath me, I pray that perhaps I too will walk on water.
A few feeble attempts send me straight into the water from which I rose, typically head first or awkwardly sideways for the onlookers to enjoy. Then it happens…on the third or fourth attempt I shoot up from the water, like a platform diver in reverse, and remain suspended. I’m so shocked by my very own miracle I can do nothing but screech with excitement. I’m flying. I’m really flying. I think I’m still flying….now I’m on a very odd angle plummeting awfully fast towards sea level. That’s the joy of fly boarding, the moment you feel like a 16 metre high champion, you’re brought quickly back to earth.
The feeling is surreal, and just as contagious as the girl on the jetski warned. “I loved it so much I just had to get a job. I’m addicted.” As I proudly paddle to shore, I wonder if I’d climbed a few stories high on my escapade, to which she replies, “you did so well, you were at least a metre or two from the water.” A metre or two?? But why did I feel like I could have lit the Olympic flame?
In any case, it was the best fun I’ve ever had with two feet locked in boots. And as I watched the fly board co-owner dive and swerve like a pro - destined to be the first Australian female to compete at the world championships in Dubai later this year - I understood that this fly boarding is a sport of precision and skill. Oh, and a whole lot of watery fun.
Words, images + footage: Alice Hansen
*Please note, images and video are not myself (I wish!!) but Darwin Flyboarding co-owner Helen. Helen and Gerard also support the local NT community including Anglicare and tourdecure, they're a good sort. So head out and fly with them when you're in the Top End.
WHERE: Darwin Waterfront Lagoon
WHEN: Thurs, Fri - 12 noon onwards, Sat - 9am onwards & Sun - 11am onwards
Bookings are Essential
PRICE: Start at $160 for adults, $90 for children U/16